Lost car keys and how to replace them featured image

Lost car keys and how to replace them

Have you ever lost your car keys? If so, you’re in good company.

A survey by a leading motoring organisation revealed that almost 2 million UK drivers have permanently lost their car keys at one time or another – and between them, they’ve spent a staggering £181 million on lost car key replacement!

Aside from preventing you from starting your motor, losing your keys can reduce your car valuation - and make it more difficult to sell your car.

Luckily, there are numerous options at your disposal for replacing lost car keys, even if both sets have gone missing. In this guide, we’ll explain how to obtain replacement car keys, the potential costs involved – and the various factors that can influence what you’ll pay.

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How to get replacement car keys

  • Get a spare key cut

    If you still have a spare set of car keys at home, you could hire a specialist key cutter to copy them.

    Although your new keys won’t have the same remote locking functionality as a like-for-like replacement from the manufacturer, they’ll be significantly cheaper.

    However, bear in mind that whenever you sell your car, you’ll probably get less for it than you would with the official manufacturer’s keys.

    When visiting your local key cutter, you should bring a copy of your V5C logbook and driving licence to prove you own the vehicle.

  • Call an auto locksmith

    Auto locksmiths can program a new key to work with your car even if you have lost both original sets. Finding the right specialist for the job may require a little research, as many locksmiths only cover a limited number of manufacturers.

    However, if you’re lucky enough to find one with a blank key that matches your motor, you’re all set! Many auto locksmiths also offer a mobile service, making this a convenient option if you’re unable to travel to their garage.

    A good auto locksmith should deprogram the original key to ensure it can’t be used by a prospective thief. They may also be able to help if your car’s lock is broken or you have damaged your car keys.

  • Ask at your local garage

    Whilst there’s no guarantee they'll be able to help, it’s worth giving your local garage a call. If they happen to have the right equipment to program a new key for your car, this could save you a lot of time and effort.

  • Call your breakdown recovery provider

    Having breakdown cover can be extremely useful if your car ever breaks down. (Of course, mastering a few basic car maintenance skills such as changing a tyre can also save you a great deal of hassle!)

    However, did you know that most breakdown cover providers can also assist if you lock yourself out of your car with the keys inside? If they are unable to retrieve your keys, the breakdown specialist should be able to get you to a garage that can.

  • Claim on your car insurance

    Some car insurance providers offer key cover as standard with comprehensive car insurance. However, this is not always the case, so check your policy carefully. (Key cover is not usually covered by third-party car insurance policies.)

    In some cases, you will need to be pay an excess. Making a claim on your car insurance could affect your no claims bonus and increase your future premiums. Therefore, this option could potentially work out more expensive than ordering a replacement key directly from the manufacturer.

  • Claim on your car key cover policy

    Certain comprehensive car insurance policies cover car key loss as standard, whilst others allow you to add this cover as an optional extra.

    If you do have to pay extra, the cost will still be much lower than paying for replacement keys out of your own pocket. Your no claims bonus won’t be affected either, which could help you save even more money in the long run.

    Some policies also include extra perks such as:

    • Car hire – This could be invaluable if you have lost both sets of car keys and are left without transport whilst waiting for replacements.
    • Taxi hire – If you lose your car keys whilst you’re out, some policies will cover the cost of getting a taxi home to retrieve the spare set.

How to get replacement car keys without the originals

If you have lost the original keys and the spare set, a local locksmith may be able to program a new key to work with your car.

However, for more sophisticated keys, you may need to arrange for your car to be towed to a manufacturer dealership or contact the manufacturer directly to request a replacement.

Either way, you’ll need to provide the vehicle’s VIN number and proof of ownership.

Illustration of car keys

Where can I find my VIN if I’ve lost my keys?

  • You should be able to find the VIN number under the bonnet.
  • On some cars, the VIN number is also printed under the windscreen.
  • Alternatively, the VIN can be found in the service book and the V5C logbook.

How much does lost car key replacement cost?

The cost of replacing a set of lost car keys can vary from around £160 to thousands of pounds. Here is a rough guide to how much you can expect to pay for car key replacement, including costs for several leading car models:

Replacement key type   
Average cost (excluding VAT)   
Manual car key   
Remote car key   
Lost car key replacement   
Up to £3,000   
Honda Civic (remote key replacement)   
Ford Fiesta (remote key replacement)   
Nissan Qashqai (remote key   replacement)   
Toyota Yaris (remote key   replacement)   
Land Rover Range Rover Sport (remote   key replacement)   
BMW i8 replacement key    
Bentley Diamond replacement key    

The average cost of car key replacement in the UK currently sits at around £240.

Please note: This pricing is for guidance only. For an accurate car key replacement quotation, please consult a mechanic, locksmith or manufacturer.

What factors affect car key replacement costs?

  • Manufacturer – Different manufacturers use different car key technologies and security measures. Luxury brands often have more sophisticated keys, which are more expensive to replace.

  • Model – Replacement costs will also vary by model. Two models within the same range may have completely different key styles and replacement costs.

  • Type of car key – The type of car key (e.g. manual, remote, flip key, transponder key or keyless entry remote) is also a core factor, with more sophisticated keys incurring higher replacement costs.

  • Special features – Features such as car alarm activation, remote locking and keyless entry will increase the cost of replacement.

  • Your choice of replacement specialist – High street locksmiths, auto locksmiths, dealerships and car manufacturers will all have different pricing models for car key replacement.

  • Time of day – Ordering replacement keys during trading hours should be cheaper than hiring an out-of-hours car key replacement specialist. (However, this can be a helpful option if you can’t wait until tomorrow.)

Do I need both sets of keys to sell my car?

Although it is not strictly necessary to have both sets of keys to sell your car, if one or both sets are missing, this can significantly hurt its resale value:

  • If you try to sell your car with a single key, you may find that it takes longer to find a buyer. A missing set of keys also puts the buyer in a position to negotiate a significant discount.
  • It is difficult (but not impossible) to sell a car with no keys. However, as the responsibility to obtain replacement keys would lie with the new owner (and they may also have to arrange for the vehicle to be towed away), it can be tricky to find a willing buyer.
  • Unless the cost would make the sale unprofitable, obtaining replacement keys should be worth your while.

Please note: Make sure you have the correct documents to sell your car to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

If your car keys are lost, stolen or damaged, you should get a replacement set made, even if you have a spare set at home. What’s more, if you’re planning to sell your car, having both sets of keys available can help you get the best possible price for it.

Yes, if you lose your car key, you can get a replacement set made from the VIN number by contacting an auto locksmith or the vehicle manufacturer. (However, you will also need to provide proof of ownership.)

This 17-character code contains important details about your car, including its country of manufacture, make, model, body style, engine size - and other identifying information that will allow a specialist to create replacement keys.

VIN codes for pre-1981 models may be shorter (between 11-17 characters).

Your remote car key may stop working if the battery dies – or if the transmitter, receiver (or the key itself) are damaged. In any case, you should ask a reputable locksmith, garage or dealership to repair or replace your remote car key.

Some providers offer key cover replacement with their comprehensive car insurance policies. However, this is not always the case, so you should check carefully when signing up.

If it is not offered as standard, you may be able to add key cover as an optional extra. However, you may need to pay an agreed excess.

Car keys insurance (or ‘key cover insurance’) policies are intended to pay out if you lose your car keys (or they are stolen). Some policies also cover broken car keys, although this is not always the case.

You may be able to add car keys insurance to your policy as an optional extra. Some providers also offer standalone car key cover.

In most cases, scrapyards or Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATF) will allow you to scrap your car with them even if the keys are missing.

However, you will need to provide proof that you are the registered owner of the vehicle. The V5C logbook should be sufficient here.